Overloading and Negatives: A Powerful Method for Bigger Biceps

Your arms are one of, if not the most visible part of your body when it comes to muscles. You can have a big and sculpted chest, back, even legs – but once you put some clothes on… they disappear (unless you’re the size of a pro bodybuilder). However, your arms always stay visible, sometimes more sometimes less. That is the reason why most people, particularly beginner and intermediate lifters try to build their arms as big and bulky as possible. Thing is – building a pair of big guns is far from an easy task and after a couple of months and a couple of inches, your arms will stop growing (or the growth will be painfully slow and minimal). That’s when the overloading technique comes into play.

What Is Overloading and What Are Negatives?

It’s a fairly simple but very hardcore method used to stimulate muscle hypertrophy (growth) that involves doing negative reps with more weight then you can do 1 full rep with (your 1RM). There are many names for this strategy with ‘overloading’ being the most common.

If you are not yet familiar with what a negative rep is, let me explain. Every repetition of an exercise has two phases – the positive (concentric) and negative (eccentric). The positive part is when you are shortening a muscle, for example:

  • Raising the bar during a bench press
  • Rising up while squatting
  • Lifting the barbell during a barbell biceps curl

As you may have guessed, the negative part of a rep is when you are lengthening the muscle – eg.

  • Lowering the bar back down toward your chest during a bench press
  • Going down on a squat
  • Lowering the barbell during a barbell biceps curl

Again, the overloading technique utilizes negative (eccentric) repetitions to maximize muscle growth. Countless studies have confirmed that the negative is when most of the muscle-tearing processes occur. Simply put, negatives allow a muscle to experience extreme stress and trauma far more than during positive reps. And as you know, more muscle stress/trauma = more muscle growth.

How to Perform Overload Exercises To Grow Bigger Biceps

First, start off by finding a spotter. If you have a gym mate, it’s easy, he will help you out. If not, ask someone nearby to quickly help you with your set.

Load a barbell with 20% more weight then your 1 rep max (for example, if your 1RM is 45 pounds, add approx. 55 pounds to the bar).

Ask your spotter to help you with lifting the bar (the concentric movement). Now tell him to let go and SLOWLY lower the bar back down (what you’re doing here is the negative part of the rep – make sure it lasts between 4-6 seconds!). Complete 8-12 reps. Many people will stop at 4-5 because they can’t suffer the incredible burn of the muscles. But you know better – man up and finish the set!

Complete 3-4 sets of these negative reps. Finish the rest of your training normally so that you don’t risk over-training the biceps.

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